This morning when we woke, Wolf nursed as usual and sweetly asked, “Mama please hold hands”. I held his hand. Once done, he peered into my dozy face and grinned, kissed my cheeks repeatedly and then ran outside to look for his Dad.
We accomplished a lot today. Got a new pair of spectacles, ordered a new bathroom door to replace the broken one, did some market research on sewing machines (I was very awed by the Singer 8280 and the saleslady’s demo).
In the end, we lugged home my brother’s old Singer – actually my grandmother’s – after much convincing (“It’s the second last furniture I have of grandma’s.” “Grandma’s going to live with you soon. Isn’t having grandma herself even better than her furniture?” Pause. “You’re so rude.”).
I spent the latter half of the evening cleaning it (and here’s a link to some step-by-step advice). It is rusty but I rubbed in lemon and salt and hoped for the best. The gears still work and everything is where it should be. I spent a moment thinking of my grandma sitting by her machine with all the chalk, thread, and needles in the drawers.
I confess still being tempted by the 8280, its reputation only slightly marred by some jamming issues. Duds, some of them? The saleslady May said they’re all assembled in China now, although the parts are made in Brazil. I’ve been lucky so far with the Nokia phones. But let me run a couple of projects on the old Singer first. But it would be nice to have a machine ready to go…
Since it sells on Ebay for about slightly more than the list price including shipping (over US$100 – ouch), I might just get it here if I want it. Okay, I want it, but for now, I don’t need it.
Meanwhile, I’m planning to make this lovely stuffed tomato dish (with organic spinach, diced carrots, raisins, black beans, garlic, some herbs) for dinner tomorrow. It will be a nice change from the usual pasta+fish combo. That and the wrinkled yellow capsicum that is now 1 week old in my fridge.
After taking 2 days to make my very first small tote bag (instead of buying them) which is 100% cotton and a cool black (and a day of carrying and admiring it), I’ve decided it is time to go get a machine to help me out. This just is not productive.
Into Alice’s rabbit hole I fell.
From Pfaff to Singer to Brother and Bernina, I spun. And those are just the brand names. The models are even more, almost like genuses of some new species (I remember those days in Anthropology 101) I had to remember. It was impossible to find a conclusive model to buy.
Never mind my mother and brother both have ancient Singers, all in good health ready for use, which they insist they need to keep. Mom: “It is worth 1000 dollars if I sell it now, and I do use it. Occasionally.” Right. Bro: “I still want it.” Okay.
At Great World City I found a nice craft lady who wore a measuring tape like a necklace. She said they sell Janome and recommended me the entry-level Jem at $262. Gosh. I was looking to spend no more than $120.
Then the advice online. There seems to be a consensus that you can’t do wrong by Bernina and Pfaff but they’re worth more than what I earn in a year (now). Brother and Singer are all apparently plasticky and made in China now, and they’re erratic from model to model – I hate that.
There’s a woman selling a Brother XL-2220 on Ebay for $120 now and I can’t find a single review on that model. Other forum advice points to Ebay being overpriced although generally we noobs are better off buying second hand higher end machines than new entry level machines.
So this is what I have decided.
1. Go look around in live shops and touch the machines.
2. Find one I like that isn’t plasticky.
3. Consider seriously if I will be using that machine much.
4. Try to convince mother and brother to part with theirs.
5. Look at the Bernina Bernette series and the Janome Jem, which seem to have the most thumbs ups so far.
Another reason to carry your Klean Kanteen around.
The next time you’re eating out, notice the water pitchers the wait staff are using. They’re usually plastic and rather cracked. Hello polycarbonate.
Or worse, they force you to buy bottled water, which is way less regulated than tap water (on a further note: Newater is actually even cleaner than tap water).
Don’t drink plastic-coated water or even worse, pay for it. Bring your own better-regulated tap water in your own stainless steel bottle.
My sweet baby turned 2 this week. On his birthday morning I woke up to see his beaming face above mine and he proclaimed, happy birthday out there.
Dad came by and we went to get his chocolate cake, as requested, and his fave berry yogurt. We had lunch at my sister’s where he happily played with his two cousins Amber and Ethan and later followed Dad and I to buy sushi for dinner.
In the evening, we had a wonderful family party at my parents’ home with lots of yummy food and when we sang happy birthday, he grinned and both of us blew out the 2 candles.
He had such a perfect birthday.
Any extended nursing mother will tell you, sometimes the nights are the toughest. Especially when you’re unwell or tired and when baby keeps waking and/or is unconsolable. The latter is the roughest and I am grateful that Wolf almost always nurses straight back to slumberland.
I have passed the phase of being envious of my friends going out late, of hubby meeting his friends for a drink, or even playing a game of WoW uninterrupted.
I’ve stemmed the endless nursing nights with reading, surfing, gaming, watching a dvd on my laptop, or sewing cloth dolls for Wolf while he is asleep – every one needs some personal time. Mine is spent in our room.
And when he wakes, I go to him quickly, stroke his face gently and tell him Mama is here, steal a sniff of his so-sweet breath, and nurse him even before his eyes open.
When I’m done admiring my baby, I either turn on my book light and read while propped over him on the side, continue watching my dvd, or surf with my Nokia N82.
It is sweet and warm and cuddly. And when I am done, I tuck myself in next to him and go to sleep.
Some nights he wakes up but most nights the waking is done while I am awake. So for the 6 to 8 hours I sleep, it is mostly uninterrupted.
Now that I think about it and write it all down, it doesn’t feel endless but a passage to the next day.
I suspect I am pregnant (or the flu virus I have is particularly virulent).
* I have never had 3 acne pimples on my face at the same time since I was born. One at a time. 2 max, but never ever 3. Not in the same week and not at the same time.
* I just got seriously nauseous playing Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. This from a woman who spent the better half of 2005 playing WoW almost 24/7 (excluding working and sleeping hours of course).
* Lousy appetite. Change in eating habits. Weird cravings. Bought apple baked ham the first time in about a year, devoured it in one go, and then felt ill. No more red meat. Feel nauseous just thinking about it.
* Increased discharge.
* Funny abdominal cramps today.
* Insomnia (but could be due to pseudo ephedrine).
* Wolf’s been making some noise about having a sibling (okay, he has for a while but I remember he did so around ovulation time).
* A feeling that something is slightly off-kilter.
Hmm… letcha know in a week or so.
In a few days, my sweet son will be 2. Looking back, he’s achieved so much.
Today he mastered 3-puzzle jigsaws. At the last United Square toy fair, I bought him a wooden box full of lovely animal jigsaws. Only today did he bring it out to play and in a blink, he mastered them all.
His vocabulary is increasing exponentially. Today he learnt the phrase “hold the bar” (while coming down stairs). He can easily say complete sentences by himself, but even with new phrases, I don’t need to say 2-3 words at a time. He can copy half sentences after hearing them once.
It has been frequently commented that he is thin. Let’s just say it is genetic and from my side of the family. With double dominant thin genes from his maternal grandparents, it is a slam dunk. He grows proportionally. Today his Dryper XL seems to be getting tighter so I know he is growing. Just a few months ago he was wearing L!
He is 90th percentile for his age group in terms of height at 88-90cm. At 12kg he is 50th percentile for his weight.
He eats all day and I feed him healthy organic fruit and vegetables. He loves blueberries and can say hello to the nice Aunty Nancy at Why Yogurt over in Great World City there, tell her his favourite 3 berries, and remind me that the blue and pink cups that used to be displayed in the glass case are gone.
He loves playing with his cars, puzzles, reading his books, and most sweetly, is most fond of the stuffed cotton rabbit and cat I made him. He hugs them and tells everyone, “Mama made”.
At the toy store, he is happy to just browse and not buy, a habit formed from early days of “looking trips” and the very rare “buying trip”. He is happy with the toys he has at home. Even for his birthday, he just wants another of his favourite car. I was so proud.
He is loving and affectionate, showing kisses and hugs to his grandma, grandpa, mom, and dad. He is very sociable, and readily waves hello and goodbye to people we meet, lending a smile to those he favours.
He greets me every morning with a grin, saying “Good Morning!” and then “Wake up, Mama!” What a fabulous way to wake up.
It has been a happy, sleepy, and wonderful 2 years with this joyful, sweet, delightful little boy. I am glad I stuck by the tenets of attachment parenting, pretty much the only parenting method supported by science and 30 years of peer-reviewed research.
The breastfeeding, co-sleeping (no cry-it-out), babywearing (no pram; sling or carrier only), and focus on positivity (no “you can’t do that”) and encouragement has been a breeze compared to others who complained about what a hassle it is to go out with so much to carry, disobedient kids. It is instant calm when Wolf is nursing and his close bond to me has allowed him the security to be one of the most independent kids I know.
Attachment parenting builds a strong bond between mother and child, and equips a child with confidence, love, security, and a helluva lot of smarts.
First of all, no TV. All the studies agree it is harmful. It is common sense that a child spending one hour playing with his toys or running around in the park is learning more than a child passively watching TV, yes, even the “educational” programs. We, as humans, learn best by example, in the real world.
We choose our battles. By allowing him to win the small battles, such as choosing the clothes he’d like to wear, and what toys to play, he allows us to win the big ones, such as when it is time to go (we rarely have a problem with that, after giving him 5 minutes grace then he waves bye bye) and when it is bedtime.
Today he can readily say he is ready to sleep. With the former, he has grown confident of his choices and truly, he has great taste in clothes.
His artwork is all over our home, the prized ones hung in the bedroom. He loves drawing and we regard each piece as a work of art. Just in 3 months, his work has evolved so much. And he is very proud of it.
We negotiate now. I believe it is an important skill he needs in life. He wants to go out to the park. I say okay, after your meal. He thinks about it then looks at me and says ok. And we eat, then we go out. I keep all my promises to him and so does his dad.
Integrity is something so important and yet so overlooked. I was truly blessed to have a father who keeps his word to me every single time since the day I was born. If he says he will bring the newspaper, yes even something as trivial as that, he will. And he has never forgotten. That is how I learnt integrity.
And so I plan to teach it to Wolf. For him to become the man I want him to be, I must become the person I want him to be.
I. CARE FOR BABY
1. Relish every moment with your child.
Remember they are only small once. Remind yourself that your baby is a living sentient being who depends fully on you. It is easy to depersonalise someone when you are exhausted. Meet baby in the eye and smile. Tell him and show him how much you love him with hugs, kisses, and gentle words and actions.
2. Nursing is best for you and baby.
Breastmilk has critical antibodies for baby, especially in the colostrum (a thick yellow paste) that oozes in the first 4 days. Breastfed babies are stronger, smarter, and healthier. The longer the nursing, the better. Continue your nursing relationship for as long as both of you are comfortable. If you have trouble breastfeeding, consult a lactation expert in the maternity ward for help immediately.
3. Eventually baby will sleep through the night, or you’ll get used to it.
Plus, you’ll most likely lose your pregnant weight along with the schedule. Research has found that sleep training doesn’t work. Babies learn to fall and stay asleep on their own whether or not they are sleep trained. Meanwhile take it one day at a time.
4. Pick baby up when he cries.
He’ll feel that he is worthy of love. Ignore all comments about spoiling the child. If you let him cry it out, it will hurt your relationship with him as he won’t trust you to care for him when he needs you. Babies cry because that’s the only way they know how to communicate. They cry to let us know they need our help. Studies have shown that letting baby cry it out will lead to him having anxiety problems and low self-esteem when he grows up.
5. Carry your baby in a baby sling or carrier.
It’s been repeatedly shown that babywearing parents and their children are closer. Babies who are carried frequently by their parents are more self-assured, possess a strong sense of worth, and are eager to explore.
6. Learn to care for baby on your own.
It is tempting in this day and age to pass him over to a carer. Being the primary caregiver to your child strengthens the bond between the two of you and boosts your confidence as a mother.
7. Encourage Dad to spend time with baby.
Children with involved fathers are more secure and have a healthier view of relationships as a whole.
8. Let baby play and play with baby.
It is wonderful to see things from baby’s point of view and to see him excited and thrilled over daily objects. It is his way of learning. Be there to share it. Give him a wide berth to explore safely. Be part of his play day. Animate his toys and talk to him, sing to him, dance with him. If you have pets, introduce baby to them and spend quality time together. Teach him how to be gentle and you’ve taught him compassion. These are fond memories he will carry with him for life.
II. CARE FOR MOM
1. Get help.
Arrange for help, no matter how capable you think you are. I liked to believe I was superwoman until I became a mother. Any help is great, even for an hour. Rest makes one a better mother. And you do need to bathe.
2. Stay hydrated.
Keep 1L and 500L bottles of water within arm’s reach. Particularly when you are nursing, you will get thirsty very fast. Plus keeping yourself hydrated wards off the headaches that will inevitably come with childrearing.
3. Keep reading material, TV remote, mobile phone turned to silent, and other objects of interest at arm’s reach.
When baby falls asleep in your lap, you’ll have something to do. Sometimes you’ll be too tired to even try putting him down (he might well wake up), reading, watching TV on silent, or surfing on your mobile phone will help pass time. Do take a moment in between to stroke your baby’s head or back.
4. Eat well.
My weight plunged on a low caloric diet (by habit), demand breastfeeding, and multiple nightwakings over the past 5 months. Now I eat anything, just to get enough energy to produce milk and not feel exhausted all day.
5. Don’t feel pressured to nap when baby is asleep.
It never works! What does help is if you are tired but wired, lie down on your side to nurse baby. You might end up dozing too.
6. Stretch daily and stretch gently.
Your muscles and ligaments will be sore, sprained, and tired. Keep medicated plasters stocked.
7. Buy the best camera phone you can afford.
I found that my phone became my best friend since I had Wolf. While nursing or if he was asleep, I could send a text message to a loved one to get me something, I could read my Gmail, surf the web on Opera Mini, play mobile games, and most importantly, capture the unexpected delightful moments with Wolf on a video or photo when my camera is too far away.
8. Educate yourself.
Confidence is key to being a good mother. And being informed is key to being confident. Read up (while breastfeeding or when baby is sleeping) on the studies that have been conducted and find out what actually works and what is actually harmful.
Enjoy your baby. They grow up too fast!
The Natural Child Project
Babyhood by Penelope Leach
Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Diane Eyer
The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp
Hello, My Name Is Mommy: The Dysfunctional Girl’s Guide to Having, Loving (and Hopefully Not Screwing Up) a Baby by Sheri Lynch
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley
Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different-And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men by Steve Biddulph
The Wonder Weeks: How to Turn Your Baby’s 8 Great Fussy Phases into Magical Leaps Forward by Hetty Vanderijt and Frans Plooij
An oldie but a goodie.
Here are the 7 Signs by Robert L. Park, professor of physics at University of Maryland at College Park and the director of public information for the American Physical Society.
1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
(Source: Confessions of a Quackbuster)
It has been a privilege to be born. The longer I have lived, the more grateful I am to my parents for having had me. For as mortality too quickly looms and the veil of invulnerability falls, death becomes a true reality for those who once thought it myth.
How quickly life passes by. Moments come and go like road runners, racing to make the next memory. I can hardly keep up anymore. My journals are full and then emptied. Each day I struggle to encapsulate the highlights and savour them.
For so many, life is over in an instant.
A male calf born to a milk cow, torn from its mother at birth, kept in a cold dark tiny crate for a month alone without food to tenderise its flesh, and then slaughtered to make veal. What sort of life is that? It has never known the warmth and love of its mother, who will lose many more children this way to meet the demands of humans who drink their milk.
Small kittens never asking to be born are born, then thrown into a sack to be discarded, taken away to be gassed, or worse, clobbered to death, just because their mother’s human owners decided not to neuter her and let her wander outside to be impregnated.
Human children born in places where there is no food, no clean water, no medicine. They cling onto their starving mothers as flies buzz around their faces, vultures, undeterred.
Then there are children born, outsourced from day one into a daycare production line or a neglectful nanny, never lovingly held by their own mothers and left to cry without any help or comfort. The imprinting is permanent. They grow up, brittle, unhappy, and angry people, hating life, wishing it would end.
So I must feel blessed that I was born into a loving home, have loving parents who nurtured and care for me. I have had the chance to savour this thing called life and it was kind to me.
When it is time to close my eyes and say goodbye forever, I will remember that in my life I have loved and I have brought joy to others, I have given life to my son and loved him and taught him well. That I have caused as little pain as I could to others to sustain my own existence, and in the process, inspired others to do the same. And that I have created with my mind and my hands many good things I hope will outlive my memory.
At my funeral, this too, shall be read:
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
Here is another respect in which we are lucky. The universe is older than 100 million centuries. Within a comparable time the sun will swell to a red giant and engulf the earth. Every century of hundreds of millions has been in its time, or will be when its time comes, ‘the present century.’ The present moves from the past to the future, like a tiny spotlight, inching its way along a gigantic ruler of time. Everything behind the spotlight is in darkness, the darkness of the dead past. Everything ahead of the spotlight is in the darkness of the unknown future. The odds of your century’s being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. You are lucky to be alive and so am I.
We live on a planet that is all but perfect for our kind of life: not too warm and not too cold, basking in kindly sunshine, softly watered; a gently spinning, green and gold harvest-festival of a planet. Yes, and alas, there are deserts and slums; there is starvation and racking misery to be found. But take a look at the competition. Compared with most planets this is paradise, and parts of Earth are still paradise by any standards. What are the odds that a planet picked at random will have these complaisant properties? Even the most optimistic calculation will put it at less than one in a million.
Imagine a spaceship full of sleeping explorers, deep-frozen would-be colonists of some distant world. Perhaps the ship is on a forlorn mission to save the species before an unstoppable comet, like the one that killed the dinosaurs, hits the home planet. The voyagers go into the deep-freeze soberly reckoning the odds against their spaceship’s ever chancing upon a planet friendly to life. If one in a million planets is suitable at best, and it takes centuries to travel from each star to the next, the spaceship is pathetically unlikely to find a tolerable, let alone safe, haven for its sleeping cargo.
But imagine that the ship’s robot pilot turns out to be unthinkably lucky. After millions of years the ship does find a planet capable of sustaining life: a planet of equable temperature, bathed in warm starshine, refreshed by oxygen and water. The passengers, Rip van Winkles, wake stumbling into the light. After a million years of sleep, here is a whole new fertile globe, a lush planet of warm pastures, sparkling streams and waterfalls, a world bountiful with creatures, darting through alien green felicity. Our travellers walk entranced, stupefied, unable to believe their unaccustomed senses or their luck.
As I said, the story asks for too much luck; it would never happen. And yet, isn’t it what has happened to each one of us? We have woken after hundreds of millions of years asleep, defying astronomical odds. Admittedly we didn’t arrive by spaceship, we arrived by being born, and we didn’t burst conscious into the world but accumulated awareness gradually through babyhood. The fact that we gradually apprehend our world, rather than suddenly discovering it, should not subtract from its wonder.”
~ Richard Dawkins from Unweaving the Rainbow